More than a Cute Face – Finding Refuge in the Ozark Mountains

The folks in the office are an animal-loving bunch. It’s not uncommon to walk the halls and hear people telling stories or showing off pictures of their furry friends, and reports of a “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” spread like wildfire. It came as no surprise, then, to hear that Rocky Ridge Refuge was the hot topic in the office after my digital manager Mary Ellen and social media specialist Anna Claire made a visit there. But to listen to them talk about this animal sanctuary on a rocky hill run by one woman with an endless supply of patience and love was more than just hearing about cute animals.

Janice with Bazinga

Janice Wolf’s first memory is of saving a pelican in Key West. To hear Mary Ellen and Anna Claire describe it, Janice has been saving animals from abuse and neglect ever since. She keeps up to 60 animals at a time at the northwest Arkansas refuge that she often finds in desperate situations. Through traditional herbal remedies and a local vet clinic she is able to give her rescues a life worth living.

Sweet puppy

Janice’s main project is rehabilitating dogs for adoption, but she has quite the knack for taking in rare or exotic breeds of animals and each of them has a distinct personality. Take Crouton for example- she patrols the walkway in between two fenced areas, but with just a little sweet potato bribery she was more than happy to let the visitors move on and visit the other animals.

Crouton with sweet potato

And what an assortment there was! While the dogs were the first to welcome Mary Ellen and Anna Claire, it was the deer, sheep, and miniature donkeys that really wanted to show off for them.

Baby Deer

Despite their size, these miniature donkeys made a big impression when they started chasing each other and the deer around the refuge pasture. Apparently they only do this when they have visitors, so Mary Ellen and Anna Claire felt very special.

Mini Donkeys

While Mary Ellen talked to Janice about the history of the refuge, Anna Claire thought she’d stealthily visit Wade the water buffalo in hopes of a picture. Turns out that stealth wasn’t needed at all! Wade, like most of the other animals, has long since passed being camera shy and, as Janice puts it, “loves to photo bomb.”


Like Janice’s description of Wade, many of the stories she told were full of laughter and hope – she was sending a puppy out for adoption the very next day, there was a baby miniature horse born earlier that morning, and her beloved capybara had just graduated to a big girl pool! What impressed Anna Claire and Mary Ellen most is that these happy tales come from animals who had been so damaged before finding their way to Rocky Ridge Refuge.


Janice has saved countless animals over the years, and you can help her. If you’re considering getting a new dog, consider adopting from Rocky Ridge – the animals there were some of the best-mannered and family friendly dogs that Mary Ellen and Anna Claire had ever encountered. And if adoption isn’t the right idea for you, consider donating to her cause. To learn more about how you can help Janice and the Rocky Ridge family, visit the Rocky Ridge Refuge Facebook Page or

For more pictures check out the Rocky Ridge Refuge tab on my Facebook page.

12 Responses to More than a Cute Face – Finding Refuge in the Ozark Mountains

  1. Marisa Kalt says:

    I appreciate the interesting information about Rocky Ridge Refuge. Any refuge for injured and abused animals should be applauded and supported.
    However, I have a problem with advocating adoptions to potential pet owners in states far away. Here in Connecticut we have hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs and cats in shelters and rescue sites waiting for forever homes, some of them for years. A great many of them end up being euthanized because there isn’t enough space or funding in municipal shelters.
    We should encourage people to adopt from local shelters.
    Thank you.

    • Pam says:

      Marisa – I am one of those adopter’s “from a state far away”. I traveled 2,000 miles round trip to adopt a wonderful dog from Janice. Does that mean I don’t adopt locally too? Absolutely not! I’ve done that all my life and will continue to do so. Many of the animals she rescues come to her from out of her local area. She has saved animals from many other states – maybe even yours. You also have to realize that she is in a small town and can only find so many local homes for her adoptions. Heroes like Janice need more support – not judgement. She is a saint.

  2. Carolyn Brandt says:

    People need to be responsible owener’s, whereever they are.

  3. Linda L. says:

    Hats off to Janice Wolf in her effort to make life a bit better for animals. There are many people across the country as individuals, dedicate their lives to help unwanted animals. We should be supportive of them all. I am sure that Ms. Wolf does her best in northwest Arkansas as each of us should do in our own communities. Thank you Ms. Wolf for making a difference. I hope Mary Ellen and Anna Claire can keep us informed of your progress.

  4. Carol Thompson says:

    There must be a special place reserved in Heaven for people like Ms. Wolf. I like the fact that she cares for all animals, not just dogs and cats. Speaking of dogs and cats though, people should have their pets spayed and neutered to help cut down on the excess unwanted dog and cat population, which is so sad. I have two cats, one male, one female, and both are “fixed.” It’s only two pets, but if we each do our part it would help cut down the unwanted population.

    • Joyce Croul says:

      Hello !! Most people that let their animals run free; don’t care about taking care of the animals. Just a puppy or kitten for the kids to start with.
      I have never bought a dog/cat; all have been thrown out and wind up at our house.
      We live in the country and city folkss now loosing their houses think we need another animal. Or just think they can fend for them selves. After years of being pets the animals don’t have a clue. neither do the people throwing them out. Joyce

  5. Cindy Menn says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful and uplifting story. And, God bless Janice Wolf for the loving work that she does. You can see the love shining through the eyes of the animals you photographed at her refuge. It makes my heart happy.

  6. Mary Ellen says:

    Seeing all the different types of animals interacting with each other with special. It was a wonderful experience.

  7. Debbie Arnold says:

    Loved this feature:). Thanks so much.

  8. Doris says:

    I applaud people who take in animals. They all have feelings and need medical care from time to time. They hurt like humans do, whether it is physically or mentally. God Bless all who love all animals and help them in any way they can.

  9. Susan Blevins says:

    I enjoyed this information…it is very interesting and warmed my heart. I live in Pocahontas, AR.

  10. Rebecca L Roy says:

    There is another rescue in Northwest Arkansas, 6 miles South of Eureka Springs, called Turpentine Creek. There you will find Lions, Tigers, and OH YES, Bears! These are NOT adoptable, so they are here to live out the rest of their lives in comfort. The compound just celebrated 20 years dedicated to the care of unwanted, abused and neglected animals, mostly big cats. As donations come in, the interns and volunteers build new habitats for the rescued animals, so they will have a huge grassy area to romp around in. If you are ever in this area, please take time to visit. They also have campsites and cabins. The website is Check it out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>